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Good News: Biking for Mind and Body




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Mark Underwood is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or wilsoncountynews.com.
September 16, 2012 | 1081 views | Post a comment

The annual Tour de France bike race in Europe is one of the ultimate tests of strength, endurance and tenacity. Just completing the race is a life accomplishment for most riders.

But recently, scientists who have been studying the effects of biking on the brain and body have found biking can improve brain health as well as having physical benefits.

We were designed to work and exert energy through exercise, but can biking really be good for your brain? The brain needs to be exercised so research has demonstrated that as fitness levels increase depression levels can be reduced and wellbeing improves.

With a daily 30 minute bike ride of medium intensity, you can improve your mood and wellbeing, and most importantly, reduce stress. Just like the heart, the brain needs to be active and fit to perform at optimum levels.

Have helmet will travel

Biking has been found to be one of the most effective ways to improve your physical health. It’s an easy, low impact exercise and can be adjusted to your own fitness level.

Riding a bike regularly may have many benefits that we’re just beginning to understand. One thing that is known is that biking, like other aerobic activities, helps to stimulate the brain, and reduce the burden of stress.

One concentrated study at Tohoku University in Japan looked at motorcycle use and it’s the effects on the brain. They studied Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans and found that riding activates prefrontal areas of the brain. These prefrontal areas are stimulated as the brain zips signals to the body to steer the bike.

Their Department of Functional Brain Imaging found that riding helps keep drivers young by invigorating their brains.

The study found an area called the bilateral prefrontal cortex (PFC) was activated while riding. When these areas are simulated, they positively affected cognitive functions, stress reduction, memory, and concentration. These studies also suggest similar results will be found with bike riders.

A recipe for better brain health

We now understand how important sleep is to our overall mental and physical health. Many variables contribute to poor sleep, from diet to daily exercise. Current research is studying the connection between sleep and memory.

But research has shown that quality sleep in order adults may help repair some of the damage from aging brain cells. This damage may contribute to memory problems, concentration and other important mental tasks.

It is common knowledge that inactivity, lack of exercise or poor sleep can lead to feeling a low level of energy or mental stamina.

Like muscular strength, brainpower is a “use it or lose it” proposition. The more you work out your brain, the better you’ll be able to process and remember information. Like any form of exercise giving your brain a boost means you’re keeping it health and fit.
 
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